Kathryn March 16th, 2011
As I wrote the title of this blog it occured to me that there are probably many more applications to it than what I’m about to share… But for now we’re back on the topic of money….
Q: What’s worse than going to get the mail (or checking the email) and finding it full of bills?
A: Finding it full of bills that you’re not expecting and aren’t prepared for!
As I have shared before, I love having a menu plan, for more than one reason! Ultimately it saves me money, it makes my shopping trip less stressful and it makes day to day life SO much easier and less stressful because I don’t have to rack my brains every day to try and think about what I’m going to have for dinner. I’m sure I also have a greater variety of food than I otherwise would… Being organised and as prepared as you can (especially financially) makes life so much easier, less stressful and consequently much more fun and enjoyable. So here’s a simple to suggestion to help you be prepared for those bills like water, electricity, gas, council rates etc. that always come when you least want them!
At the beginning of this year I went through our utilities and made a rough estimate of what the total cost would be through the year. I then took that number and worked out what that equated to for each month… I use a monthly figure because we get paid monthly – if we got paid weekly or fortnightly I would have worked out the figure for that instead. Now, every month when we get paid I can take that money and put it aside so that when the bills come in I already have the money there to pay for them. Of course sometimes it will be more than I budgeted and sometimes it will be less – but atleast if it is more, I only have a comparatively small amount to make up… and if it’s less then the excess can stay there for the bills that are over budget – or be used in many other ways.
So it’s up to you how you keep a track of the money you have put aside for the bills, but here’s a few suggestions….
- The bank account! With our bank account have an everyday access account, linked to our cards and then we have a couple of savings accounts that can only be accessed through online banking. When the pay comes in we use one of those accounts to keep the money for the bills aside. It’s easy to have the money separated and know that you can’t touch it except for the bills! Then when the bills come in we just transfer it across to our regular account and pay them.
- Cash! What more can be said – take the cash out of the bank and put it in a safe place until you need it… With most people paying bills with credit cards or bpay online this is not a very popular option. But if you can’t control your use of the card, then it’s a good one!
- Keep a record. It’s not too hard to make up a simple spreadsheet that allows you to keep a track of the money you should have in the bank for your bills. Update it with each pay and then you will always know how much money should be in the bank. Just make sure you know your limits before you go to the shops!
This one is pretty simple! When Dallin and I are looking at making a ‘big’ purchase – whether it be a new phone, a camera, a car, a computer, a piano, new furniture etc. we like to talk to people. Getting experiences and opinions from a variety of people helps you to make well educated decisions… which helps you save money, and get good value for your money. I think it’s important to remember that value for money doesn’t always mean buying the cheapest one. It means buying something that is good quality, that suits your needs, and that you like. I mean, think about it…you don’t want to buy a bright green lounge suite just because it was the cheapest one there… and then look at it everyday and regret not spending the extra money to get something you actually like. You will just end up buying another one sooner than you otherwise would have…Having said that – if you WANT a bright green lounge suite by all means go for it!
I also think it’s essential that you know what’s important to you before you go buying… for example if you’re buying a new camera, know what features you want before you go shopping, and decide which are optional and which are essential. Does it need a large screen? Is the camera size an issue for you? Is zoom important? What about the resolution…. These are all things you should decide BEFORE you go to the shop so you don’t get talked into buying something you don’t want… Oh, and set a price limit too…
I have a spreadsheet that I use to keep track of what I spend…
Except for the shopping money I take out in cash, almost all of my purchases are made using EFTPOS, that way when I log into my bank account I can easily see and remember what it was I purchased because the details of the shop are listed on my transactions. I go through my transactions regularly and enter the figures into my spreadsheet…. then I can see the REAL picture of what I’m spending and re-evaluate my budget. If I am consistently going over budget in some areas then I can look realistically at what I can do to cut back there, or if needed I can cut back in another area to allow for more money where it’s needed. I find constantly evaluating and looking at your budget is one of the best ways to remind yourself not to spend money and gives you a great opportunity to consider what you really do or do not need. My spreadsheet it quite detailed and is actually one I found on the internet (that I have adjusted slightly) if anyone wants a copy I’m more than happy to share.
I hope this has given you some more ideas on sticking to your budget! I have at least one more of these coming… so I hope you don’t mind that too much!